Khashoggi murder: Turkey court tries accused Saudis in absentia
ISTANBUL (TURKEY) – As many as 20 Saudi officials were tried in absentia by a court in Turkey on Friday in a case related to the gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. The incident had sparked outrage across the world and eclipsed the image of the ruler of Saudi Arabia.
The journalist was finished off in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018 when he went there to get documents for his marriage. Some Western governments, as well as the CIA, said Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman had ordered the killing. However, Riyadh has denied the allegation.
According to prosecutors, Khashoggi’s fiancee Hatice Cengiz waited outside oblivious of the fact that he was strangulated and his body dismembered.
Two key Saudi officials – former deputy head of Saudi Arabia’s general intelligence Ahmed al-Asiri and former royal court adviser Saud al-Qahtani – have been accused of instigating “premeditated murder with monstrous intent”.
It is reported that 18 other defendants were flown to Turkey to finish off the prominent and well-connected journalist who was critical of the crown prince.
It is highly unlikely that the defendants would be handed over to Turkish authorities as Riyadh accused Ankara of failing to cooperate with a separate, largely secretive, trial in Saudi Arabia last year.
A Saudi Arabian court in December awarded death sentence to five people and imprisonment for three in connection with the killing. However, Khashoggi’s family pardoned the murderers, effectively granting them a formal reprieve under Saudi law.
Human rights advocates hope that the trial would bring the case once again in the spotlight and boost the call for sanctions against Saudi Arabia or deploying universal jurisdiction, which can have the accused arrested if they travel abroad.
Cengiz said she hoped the trial would uncover fresh evidence about her husband’s killing, especially over how his body was disposed of. According to Turkish officials, his remains might have been incinerated or dissolved in acid.
(Photos syndicated via Reuters)
This story has been edited by BH staff and is published from a syndicated field